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Women's Heart Health Month: Understanding the Menopause-Heart Connection

February marks Women's Heart Health Month, and is the perfect time to discuss the important connection between menopause and cardiovascular disease (CVD).. Did you know that as women enter perimenopause and estrogen levels decline, their risk for CVD spikes dramatically? Surprisingly, the leading cause of death in women over 50 isn't cancer; it's heart disease.

Why Does This Happen And How Can Women Reduce Their Risks?

Perimenopause is the hormonally chaotic phase of a woman's life where she experiences irregular ovulation patterns and eventual cessation. As the body halts ovulation, estrogen—a hormone responsible for over four hundred bodily functions, many related to heart health—rapidly declines. Estrogen shields women from cardiovascular disease through various mechanisms: it improves cholesterol profiles, reduces inflammation, enhances blood vessel dilation, acts as an antioxidant, and prevents excessive blood clotting.

With dwindling estrogen, cholesterol may accumulate on arterial walls, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. This hardening process accelerates in menopause due to declining estrogen levels. Once women pass through menopause, their risk for cardiovascular disease aligns with that of men.

How Can Women Reduce CVD Risks?

CVD is not solely a man's affliction; it's the number one killer of women over 25 in the United States, irrespective of race or ethnicity. As women approach natural menopause around age 51, their heart disease risk escalates. Factors like diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and family history further compound this risk.

To minimize risks, women should understand their risk factors and family history, acknowledging the interplay between genetics and lifestyle choices. Routine tests, including lipid and blood pressure screenings, are imperative, especially during menopausal transitions. Additionally, scheduling appointments with a gynecologist for annual exams, including mammograms, and consulting a cardiologist at age 50 for comprehensive evaluations are essential steps.

Should I Consider Estrogen Replacement?

Many women opt for estrogen replacement therapy at physiological levels during menopausal transitions. However, this decision should be made in consultation with a trusted healthcare provider, considering individual physiology, needs, and potential reactions. Flexibility and patience in adapting regimens are integral to success in this process.

We offer a consultation and telemedicine to support you on your menopausal journey and help decide what solutions are right for you. Book a call today. 



Follaine Health (Gaelic for Wellness) was born out of a desire to help real women with real health issues. 


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